CAMP HUMPHREYS, Republic of Korea - Warriors showed their Second-to-None commitment to their nation thousands of miles from home as they appeared on one of the most-watched televised events in the United States.
More than 100 2nd Infantry Division/ROK-U.S. Combined Division Soldiers participated in the first-ever 2ID National Anthem live-shot from South Korea during Super Bowl LIII, with an estimated audience of 114 million viewers, Feb. 4 at Freeman Hall.
As the only permanently forward-deployed combined division, 2ID/RUCD includes both American and Republic of Korea soldiers, as well as rotational units to enhance cohesion and interoperability of forces. CBS Sports, the official channel for the Super Bowl, broadcasted live from Korea as both ROK Army soldiers and U.S. Army Soldiers stood side-by-side during the live-shot as Gladys Knight sang the National Anthem.
"This was a once-in-a-lifetime experience," said Pvt. Tavian Washington, Tifton, Georgia native, Rams fan, and aviation operations specialist, 2nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 2ID/RUCD. "Never imagined being featured on national television and enjoying the game with my unit from Korea."
In another Super Bowl first, Maj. Gen. D. Scott McKean, 2ID/RUCD commanding general, and Command Sgt. Maj. Phil K. Barretto, Aiea, Hawaii native, 2ID/RUCD sergeant major, were interviewed during the pre-game show and were provided the unique opportunity to ask professional commentators about the National Football League.
"John Lynch (49ers general manager) and Kyle Shanahan (49ers head coach) are starting their third year. Will the (San Francisco) 49ers be able to compete next year with the Rams? And the second part of that, is Jimmy Garoppolo (49ers quarterback) going to be the comeback player of the year," asked McKean, San Jose, California native, inquiring about the future of his hometown team.
Nate Wayne, former NFL linebacker, and Vaughn Hebron, former NFL running back, thanked Warriors on behalf of all the players for their service before giving their analysis.
"When it comes to the 'niners,' Kyle Shanahan is one of the most genius minds when it comes to play-calling and he's going to have this team right," said Wayne. Both commentators agreed Jimmy Garoppolo is a great quarterback and that the 49ers are a solid team.
With a loud and boisterous 'Second to None,' the interview was over and Soldiers enjoyed snacks and beverages provided by the U.S. Army Garrison Camp Humphrey USO and the American Red Cross who teamed up to provide support throughout the event while Soldiers watched the live game.
"Being part of the USO, we are here for the service members and their families," said Sonya Tuuao, U.S. Army Garrison Yongsan native, United Service Organization facilitator. "I grew up in a military family, and my husband is in the military, so I know what it's like to be in a place you've never been before, so it's especially important to be here for the military community."
Regardless of the outcome of the game, Warriors left with a renewed sense of allegiance after representing the U.S. Army in front of a nation they swore to defend.
"Nothing could describe the overwhelming feeling of pride that I felt being in that room during the National Anthem, knowing that my family was watching from the states thousands of miles away," said Pfc. Joey Mendoza, Harlem, New York native, cable systems installer, 2ID/RUCD. "It opened my eyes to the endless possibilities the Army has to offer. It's a day I will never forget.
More photos available by visiting 2ID's official Flickr album https://www.flickr.com/photos/2id/albums/72157678366136578